Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Headnote of the Week

This week's headnote is topically relevant to something near and dear to my heart: the sad state of the American legal profession.  Specifically, the abysmal record of law schools scamming students into paying astronomical tuition rates, allowing them to incur hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, with no real way to pay them back. Plenty of articles have been written about the fact that there are essentially no standards in place to force law schools to be accountable for their employment statistics.  In other words, students go to law school with dreams of making the "big bucks" and yet they are going to law schools that offer basically no hope of getting one of these dream jobs. Anyway, it has been suggested that law schools owe a duty of full disclosure to tell prospective students exactly what they're getting into before they sign up for 3 years and $120,000+ in student loans.  The New York Times wrote an amazing article the other day that touches on something anyone familiar with lawyers or law students already knows: law students are getting themselves into serious debt problems, with no plan for how to pay the debts back. The New York Times article profiles a number of recent graduates who are looking at a difficult legal employment environment. You can read the entire article here (and I recommend that you do because mark my words, student loans will be the next big bailout).  It has gotten so bad, in fact, that there have been many efforts to force law schools to disclose their actual employment statistics.  Not just "x number of students are employed/unemployed."  See, right now, schools count as "employed" anyone with a job, even if non-law related. Yep, that's right, to pad their numbers, they count as employed their former students who are nannies or mcdonald's managers. Spear-heading this effort is Law School Transparency.

But good luck. So far, only one school has agreed to comply with the request to release their information.  And today's Headnote of the Week may explain why:

Under Ohio law, law school did not owe its students a duty of good faith and fair dealing.
Valente v. University of Dayton, 689 F. Supp. 2d 910 (S.D. Ohio 2010)

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